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August 31, 2008

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The F Yeah Fest, curated by Sean Carlson and Keith Morris, might be the younger, more precocious sibling to Silver Lake's Sunset Junction, but it has its own buoyant charm. Only at F Yeah can one watch Austin, Texas’ Best Fwends while standing next to cheery Matt Johnson of Brooklyn’s Matt and Kim, and later, mosh with Jonathan Gray of L.A.’s The Mae Shi. Although this year’s festival suffered a huge setback when a financial backer pulled out at the last minute, Carlson and the crew -- now more than $15,000 in debt -- decided to press on, booking a wealth of musical acts into the Echo, the "F Yeah Fest Annex" and Echoplex.

The lineup included staples of the L.A. scene like No Age, Mika Miko and Abe Vigoda, but some visiting acts turned in memorable performances. As guitarist Josh Agran strummed the first chord of the set from Philadelphia hardcore punk band Paint It Black, the audience had a choice to make: mosh and slam into one another or stand to the side to avoid being kicked in the face. The band mixed in old songs like “Election Day” with some tracks off this year’s “New Lexicon,” and bassist Andy Nelson stoked the frenzied atmosphere attempting to crowd surf. Pink Eyes, singer of a Canadian punk band, also jumped headfirst into the crowd during his band's 30-minute show at the Echoplex -- after revealing that he weighed around 300 pounds.

It wasn't all about punk rock, however. Comedians including Andy Daly, Jonah Ray, Bob Odenkirk and Jeff Garlin joked at the Rec Center, and bands like Brooklyn's High Places provided a welcome respite from the aggressive hardcore energy, though the duo's set was plagued by technical problems. Playing songs from an upcoming self-titled debut, High Places' frontwoman Mary Pearson's ethereal vocals were overtaken by the sounds of drum machines, samplers and music shakers, leaving patrons generally frustrated.

The adorable Matt and Kim found more success with such audience favorites as “Yea Yeah” and “No More Long Years” and plenty of lively stage banter. Yes, there was crowd surfing and moshing, but the aesthetic was more enjoyable dance party -- complete with keyboard interludes of Top 40 covers -- than gleeful street fight.

L.A. Times Music Blog

Vivian Lee